By Miss Smut Buttons

Sex Dolls, or Love Dolls as many current day owners prefer, encompass a wide range of sex toys and masturbation aids. Ranging from inflatables and body pillows, to hand crafted full scale silicone replicas, to products that are literally just the ‘fun bits’ of the human body. Sex Dolls cut to the chase for people that enjoy the physical form and anatomy of their desired sex. It’s a product that, the more realistic you want it, the more it’s going to cost you.  

But when did all this doll fuckery get started, I hear you ask? Well I’m going to pretend you asked and drag you along with me on a curious journey through the history of Sex Dolls.

I don’t want to shock anyone but dick owners didn’t get the urge to dick things just recently. The urge to dick things has existed longer than conscious thought. So it’s no surprise to find Sex Dolls, often crude replicas of the female form, littered throughout history.

8 AD. Ah, the good old days. The poet Ovid writes about a sculptor named Pygmalion who carved a woman of unparalleled beauty from ivory. He called her Galatea meaning “white like milk”. Pygmalion had always been super into his craft, going so far as to vow never to marry since a woman would only distract him from his art. Well apparently all those long hours alone in the studio had an impact because after finishing Galatea he fell in love with his creation, becoming lost in waves of joy and desire each time he looked at her. He veiled her in the finest cloths, adorned her with jewellery and weaved flowers into her hair. Because apparently the classic “I really like you” moves haven’t changed much in the last few millennia.  Pygmalion started bathing and feeding her, eventually working up to having sex with his statue / perfect woman creation.

The celebration of Aphrodite comes around and Pygmalion prayed with all his heart and soul, beseeching the goddess to turn his ivory figure into a real woman. Aphrodite decides to check out the statue for herself. When she looks upon Galatea, she’s amazed by its beauty and liveliness. Aphrodite finds that Galatea reminds her of herself, so similar is she in beauty and perfection. Satisfied that this all appears above board, Aphrodite grants Pygmalion his wish. Pygmalion is amazed as his figurine comes to life, smiling at him and speaking words of admiration for her creator. Their love blossoms, wedding vows are exchanged and Aphrodite blesses them with happiness and prosperity.

Thus begins a long tradition of men building realistic female substitutes, falling in love with them and getting their doll fuckery on.

In the 11th to 12th Centuries, “Sheela-na-gigs” naked women made of marble, are carved into the side of churches all over Britain, Ireland and even France and Spain to ward off evil spirits. The carvings had exaggerated vulvas and a legend at the time said caressing these sexy bits gave you the power to heal others. Hopefully once you washed the communal magic residue off your hands.

Sex Dolls as masturbation aids were used by both French and Spanish sailors from the 15th century onwards, dame de voyage in French or dama de viaje in Spanish, or for European bingo, Seemannsbraut, in German. They were makeshift masturbatory dolls and of sewn cloth, old clothes and scraps of leather used by sailors while they were away on long isolated voyages. It was also bad luck to have women on board a ship, so just a whole heap of seamen for months at a time. There are no surviving examples of these dames but they have been described as “a life sized cloth doll”, which is probably a good thing as they were most likely used again and again by multiple men. Sanitary? No. Venereal disease? Yes.

There’s not a lot of solid information about these dame de voyages but there is a story about French philosopher Rene Descartes (he of “I think, therefore I am” fame). On a sea voyage to Sweden, Descartes brought along with him a life like doll of metal and leather which he referred to as his daughter. The doll was found by sailors who searched his rooms looking for this “daughter” they hadn’t seen. They found a doll that was so uncannily lifelike it horrified them. Probably mindful of the superstition that women were bad luck to have on ships, the crew dragged the doll from the room, onto the deck, and with a heave ho, cast it overboard. Rather than using it as a sex aid, it’s more likely that Descartes was exploring his fascination of artificial life and the question of what it is to be actually human. But I’m guessing the sailors on the ship would have been skeptical about that.

The Dutch sold some of their dames de voyage (not a fancy Descartes-style one) to the Japanese during the Rangaku period, which is why the term “Dutch wives” is still commonly used in Japan to refer to modern life size silicone sex dolls.

The above painting is dated to the 19th century in India, and provides an interesting look at sex dolls. While the heyday of Mughal paintings was from the 15th to 17th centuries, and not to be confused with anything to do with the Karma Sutra which is way way older still (and is mostly about the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire, what sustains it, how and when it is good or bad). This painting shows a male simultaneously taking pleasure from both a sex doll and a paddle of anal toys. While modern viewers might appreciate it for it’s mad multitasking skills, it’s very possible that it was painted at a time when prudish British culture was just getting its dirty mitts all over Indian culture. So although details are thin, it’s been speculated that it could have been painted as part of a catalogue of sexual sins.

Iwan Bloch’s 1908 Sexual Life of Our Time makes the earliest record of commercially manufactured sex dolls, “There exist [clever mechanics] in this province of pornographic technology, who from rubber and other materials, prepare entire male or female bodies, which…subserve fornicatory purposes. More especially are the genital organs represented in a manner true to nature.” The dolls that Bloch is talking about had a function that secreted oil by means of pneumatic tubes, to simulate a real vaginas self lubrication.

These dolls were apparently available for purchase in Paris and took 3 months to build. They were sold in the Rue Chaptal for about 3,000 francs. Surely a development that would have pleased Descartes

Just to chuck in some extra weirdness legitimacy, sex dolls once got entangled with the surrealists.

In many ways Hans Bellmer, the German Surrealist, is the real mad scientist behind the modern sex doll. In the 1930s Bellmer created uncanny erotic models of the female form, lacking only a functional orifice for dicking. Sounds legit, right? Except for the part where he revealed that the motivation for his lusty creations was a deep desire for his 15 year old cousin Ursula.

In 1933 with the help of both a contemporary doll maker and funding from his mother, Hans created a model of his female form. It had a hollow torso and in place of a womb he created what he described as a “panorama of images of bad taste representing the thoughts and dreams of a young girl.” Said images were viewed through a portal in the navel which the viewer activated by pressing the left nipple. Taking things to the next level, Hans disassembled the doll and proceeded to pose her in suggestive positions that represented his fantasies. How do we know? Because he took a heap of photographs.

If you’re sitting there worry about poor Ursula…she got in on the project and in 1934, and took a heap of the photographs with her to France. Once there she showed them to Breton and Eluard, vanguards of the Surrealist movement. They loved the work for its artistic merit and in 1935 Hans Bellmer arrived in France. Already working on the next model, Hans upgraded to a wooden art mannequin with movable ball joints. The second doll, featured a reversible hips/torso, a hairless vulva, buttocks large breasts and was finished with little white socks, girly shoes, and a bow on top of her head.

Hans, escalating things once again, starts taking photos of his new creation in provocative poses, “lurid” settings, and positions that evoked notions of violence and violation. The Surrealists remained supportive of the work and claimed it was a “metaphorical attack on the rigid patriarchal regiment of the Nazi state”. Which if anyone ever walks in on me having sex with a sex doll, is definitely the line I’m going with.

Speaking of Nazis, there’s the legend of the Nazi Sex Doll. For a very long time, a lot of people thought the Nazis had developed a sex doll for their deployed soldiers under the sextastic name, ‘The Borghild Project’ to prevent the spread of STIs during WWII. Rumour had it that they’d been modelled on a popular German actress, with the factory being bombed by the Allies, destroying any physical proof of the project. The story was later found to have been a series of rumours, hoaxes and misinformation that couldn’t be proven. Or at least that’s what those Germans want us to believe.

As plastics became softer and more available new creations like ‘Hohoemi’ started to appear. Created in 1977 by the future CEO of Orient Industry (one of today’s leading producers of realistic sex dolls), ‘Hohoemi’ is made from urethane and PVC and as you can see below, is a head, bust and waist with a vaginal opening.

In 1982 an attempt to import a commercial shipment of sex dolls from Germany had the unintended consequence of ending the law against importing “Obscene or Indecent” items into Britain.The dolls were initially seized by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise officers, however the importers took their case all the way to the European Court of Justice and won in 1987. As a result Britain was forced to lift the import prohibitions that had been in place since 1876.

In 1996 Matt McMullen became our modern Pygmalion and created the first realistic Sex Doll, thus founding Real Dolls, one of the leading sex doll manufacturers in the world today. Matt’s dolls would evolve model by model to be the sex doll at the centre of Lars and The Real Girl in 2007. A story about a man in relationship with a sex doll, nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay written by Nancy Oliver.

The rest, as they say, is history. We’re looking forward to bringing you an article on the future of Sex Dolls, as there’s a lot of great media out there with different takes on the subject, from Blade Runner, to Ghost in Shell, Ex Machina, BBC’s Humans, and HBO’s Westworld just to name a very few.

So now you have the sex doll history lesson you never thought you needed. Go now, return to the world armed with a few dinner party sex doll facts to drop on your unsuspecting guests. If you’d like to learn more on the subject  I suggest, The Sex Doll: A History by Anthony Ferguson.

Until next time,

Miss Smut Buttons xxx